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The summer box office just went haywire.
The feminine of the director Greta Gerwig Barbie kicked off Friday with a staggering $70.5 million, including $22.3 million in previews. If initial modeling is correct, the Warner Bros. film is targeted for a historic opening of more than $155 million domestically, a threshold usually reserved for male-led superheroes or select IPs like the latest Harry Potter movie. (Some show the film even exceeding $160 million, though Warner Bros. remains more circumspect and sticks to over $150 million in case Saturday’s traffic sells out.)
Barbie — which brings Mattel’s iconic fashion doll to life — is also aiming for big numbers in some overseas markets for an expected international debut of up to $120 million.
In North America, Barbie is all but certain to mark the biggest domestic start ever for a solo female-directed film — that crown is currently held by Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Womanwhich started with $103.3 million domestically in 2017 and is expected to set a number of other records, including landing best opening of 2023 to date ahead The Super Mario Bros. Movie ($146.3 million). It belonged to the next closest 2023 launch Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ($120.7 million), followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($118.4 million) and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum Mania ($106.9 million). Otherwise, many releases weren’t able to cross the $100 million mark.
Gerwig’s film is towering over Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimerthe other new release of the weekend.
Not that Oppenheimer, from Universal, is any slouch. The three-hour historical drama about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the making of the atomic bomb is also arriving much sooner than expected. Nolan’s film made $33 million on Friday for a projected $77 million weekend, which would mark the director’s third-biggest domestic debut after The Dark Knight is resurrected ($160.9 million) and The dark Knight ($158.4 million), not adjusted for inflation. It will arrive even earlier than the recent summer photos included The flash, Elementary AND Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.)
Other Stats: At $77 million, Oppenheimer it would rank as the third-biggest opening ever for a biopic in North America behind American sniper ($89.3 million) and Christ’s passion ($83.8 million), not adjusted for inflation.
Abroad, Oppenheimer is headed for a strong opening of $88.9 million.
Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested Nolan’s film would start with a solid $50 million domestically; Gerwig Barbie it was expected to reach between $90 million and $110 million, already a huge sum for a female film.
The one-two of Barbie AND Oppenheimer — a phenomenon dubbed the “Barbenheimer” — was on full display Friday in a much-needed boost for moviegoers and the box office, which has yet to fully recover from the pandemic. This will be the first three-day weekend in history where one movie makes $100 million or more, and another $50 million or more.
From a revenue standpoint, this is going to be one of the biggest weekends of all time and probably the biggest since Avengers: Finale, according to Comscore, with combined ticket sales topping $300 million in a rare feat. The bubbly box office is a welcome respite from the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strike, which has brought Hollywood to a standstill and sparked concern among theater owners that studios will start shifting their fall and winter releases if actors can’t promote their films.
Both Barbie AND Oppenheimer were honored with A CinemaScores by Friday audiences in the US And their critics’ scores on Rotten Tomatoes store aren’t far off; 90 percent versus 93 percent, respectively.
According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Theater Owners among its members, 200,000 patrons in the United States have purchased tickets to book a double feature and see both Barbie AND Oppenheimer (it is not clear how many of these customers belong to loyalty clubs and therefore obtain a certain number of tickets at a reduced cost or for free).
Barbenheimer isn’t making life easy for Tom Cruise’s lead Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning, part onewhich made a five-day debut of $78.5 million after launching in U.S. theaters on July 12. Early estimates show the film dropped more than 55% to $20 million – $21 million in its second outing despite still better reviews than Barbie AND Oppenheimer. Right now, he’s in a close race with Sound of Freedom for third place.
Paramount’s seventh Mission Impossible the film has to deal with the loss of Imax screens Oppenheimeras well as losing other premium large format screens to both Oppenheimer OR Barbie. The surcharge for Imax and PLF is significant and can have a large impact on your bottom line.
The indie hit from Angel Studios Sound of Freedom it should enjoy another strong weekend and could even make $20 million or more in its third weekend after breaking the $100 million mark domestically last weekend against a production budget of $14 million-$15 million.
Billed as a political thriller, the faith-based film stars Christ’s passion’There’s Jim Caviezel as the real Tim Ballard, who worked as an agent for the Department of Homeland Security before embarking on his quest to bring child traffickers to justice. While the conservative is inclined Sound of Freedom has been discussed on QAnon message boards, Angel says it’s not a QAnon movie. In late 2021, Caviezel spoke at a QAnon convention in Las Vegas, where he invoked QAnon’s tagline, “The storm is upon us.”
Box office estimates will be updated on Sunday.